Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

At Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute, you get a quick, accurate diagnosis. Fortunately, individuals with bladder cancer often detect it early by noticing blood in the urine. Our expert team confirms the presence of cancer as promptly as possible, so we can begin treatment. The earlier we diagnose bladder cancer and begin treatment, the higher the chances of a successful treatment.

Expert bladder cancer diagnosis at AHN

At the Cancer Institute, we use sophisticated technology to diagnose bladder cancer. You can expect the diagnosis process to be:

  • Minimally invasive: Our diagnostic tests use advanced tools that do not require an incision and will keep you as comfortable as possible.
  • Expert: Our bladder cancer specialists use the latest research, so you receive the most precise diagnosis. A specific diagnosis helps us create an effective treatment plan, tailored to your needs. We also offer robust support services to treat the whole person.
  • Prompt: We get you the test results swiftly, so you can talk to your care team about your treatment options right away.

Diagnostic procedures for bladder cancer

In order to diagnose the cancer, a urologist (specialist in diseases of the urinary tract) will conduct a physical exam and discuss your symptoms. The most common symptom of bladder cancer is noticing blood in your urine. A physician may also detect bladder cancer with a routine urinalysis (test of the urine) during a physical.

Our diagnostic tests include:

  • Cystoscopy: This minimally invasive exam usually takes place in a physician’s office. During the exam, we:
    1. Give you local anesthesia to numb the urethra and bladder
    2. Insert a small, flexible tube through the urethra and into the bladder
    3. Inject sterile salt water into the tube to expand the bladder and look at its inner lining
  • Bladder biopsy: If we suspect cancer after or during a cystoscopy, the physician performs a biopsy. This outpatient procedure is also minimally invasive. The scope (tube) collects cells from the bladder. A specially trained doctor called a pathologist examines the cells under a microscope to determine if cancer is present.

Staging procedures for bladder cancer

Our team uses leading-edge technology to detect bladder cancer and to determine its stage. The stage of the cancer refers to how advanced it is and if it has spread. We may perform these diagnostic tests to pinpoint the stage:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: A combination of X-rays and computer technology produces detailed images of the bladder, so we can identify the exact location of the cancer.
  • Bone scan: We inject a small dose of radioactive material into a vein, where it travels through the bloodstream. This imaging test can detect if the cancer has spread to the bones.

Bladder cancer treatment

You meet with your entire care team shortly after receiving your diagnosis. Our treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, intravesical therapy (where we inject medication directly into the bladder), or combination therapy (a combination of two or more treatment methods). Find out more about our approach to treating bladder cancer.

Contact us

Call the AHN Cancer Help Line anytime at (412) NURSE-4-U (412) 687-7348 to schedule a cancer-related appointment or to just talk with our nurses about diagnoses, treatments, and side effects.